An eight-feet-high Nataraja bronze idol at Valluvarkottam, Nungambakkam, reflects the arduous workmanship and meticulous processes that has gone into its making. “Making bronze icons needs good memory, concentration and ability to withstand pain. There have been instances when I've hurt my hands and got nails chipped off while chiselling and shaping hot moulds into figurines,” said R. Kamaraj, an artisan from Swamimalai. The alloy of five metals undergoes eight processes before sculpted into a striking figurine.

Mr. Kamaraj was one of the artisans who demonstrated their skills at the Crafts Festival of Tamil Nadu, a 13-day exhibition hosted by Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation (TNHDC) Limited's Poompuhar from Friday. C.V. Sankar, Principal Secretary, Handlooms, Handicrafts, Textiles and Khadi Department and Sheela Rani Chunkath, chairperson and managing director of TNHDC, inaugurated the exhibition. From giant sized traditional brass lamps, Thanjavur paintings to wood carvings, arts connoisseurs would have an opportunity to feast on traditional craftsmanship of the State.

Every art piece speaks volumes of the labour and skill of artisans. To make an inlay or three-dimensional wooden painting, four people have to put their skills together for a week. For a section of artisans which comes from tribal and fishermen communities, handicrafts were a means of strengthening their livelihood. C. Kokila from Pulicat who sells palm handicrafts, said “Many women have started making such items to boost their family income. These items are popular in countries like Netherlands and United Kingdom.”

Visitors could also pick from a wide variety of clothes, home linen, jewellery, terracotta, jute and wooden articles showcased at the exhibition. V. Subbaiyan, Poompuhar's sales manager, said nearly 100 bronze replicas of deities were being exhibited for the first time. Sales of Rs.3.5 lakh is expected to be generated from the exhibition, which is open between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. till February 13.

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Arts, Entertainment & EventsMay 14, 2012